This week, the Trump Administration released its budget, which includes $9 billion cuts to the Department of Education. The budget seeks to eliminate subsidized student loans, public service loan forgiveness, and many other programs that help millions of students afford higher education and succeed in school. These proposed changed are extremely harmful to public education as we know it today.
This cruel budget reallocates public funds to “school choice,” a concept that redirects public funds from public schools to charters and private schools, enabling those who can afford it to seek better education elsewhere. That’s right–instead of funding and supporting public schools, the Department of Education under Betsy DeVos and Donald Trump will be encouraging students and parents to seek quality education outside of that system.
The budget goes so far to emphasize school choice that it de-emphasizes equality and access in public education. Yesterday, in Congressional hearings over the budget, DeVos refused to directly answer questions about whether private schools receiving federal funds would lose that fundings if they were to discriminate against LGBTQ students.
This budget does nothing to increase funding HBCUs, even as DeVos (ahistorically) lauded HBCUs as essential bastions of school choice. Representative Barbara Lee chastised DeVos for the $1.7 million cuts to the Office of Civil Rights and for DeVos’ willingness to allow discrimination in the name of school choice.
There are some positives in this budget, including its increased, year round support to Pell Grants which helps millions of low income students attend college. While it is highly unlikely that Congress will accept this budget as it is, what is problematic here are the values the Trump budget perpetuates.
The budget deeply integrates inequity into the public school system, cruelly cutting funding for after-school programs, funding for the Special Olympics, and funding charter schools and school choice vouchers. This budget is based on power, mobility, and chance, not access to quality schools for all.